Monday, August 21, 2017

The Night Begins To Shine Review

It has been a while since Puffy released a new song though in this case "The Night Begins To Shine" appears on the "The Teen Titans Go Songs From The Night Begins To Shine Special" which is both long, unwieldy and goofy for a soundtrack album.  I will not use it again as there is no need. I only purchased Puffy's track as the other tracks were not of interest.

Vocally Ami and Yumi are in fine form, though I suspect there is a little processing.  Not a good or bad thing.  The delivery is evocative of 70's disco, which is well within their wheelhouse.  They show a little more dynamic singing which is good.

The music for "The Night Begins To Shine" is basically driven by synthesizers and drum machines and would not be out of place on a Perfume album. The flip side is with the vocal processing the music and vocals are tied together well.  I honestly was not missing anything resembling a guitar on the track.  That feels weird to admit, but I have been listening to Perfume a fair bit as of late.

Engineering for "The Night Begins To Shine" is good, but there are parts where the synthesizers sound a bit muddled and there are a couple bits where I thought I hear a little fuzzy sounds.  There are some neat underlying bits that bounce between the left and right channels.  On headphones the track does not fade out as you would think, it actually goes on quietly for a few seconds fading into a synth classical music sound.

Quick Scores:
Vocals: A-
Music: B+
Engineering: B-

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Night Begins to Shine, New Layout & Sundry

This one snuck up on me, a new song: The Night Begins to Shine.

You can buy The Night Begins to Shine on Google Play or Amazon.

Things have been kind of crazy the past couple of months and writing about anything has been not on my radar.  Changed jobs, kids' school, etc.  Nothing bad, just time and energy consuming.

Things are starting to settle down.  I have a really great Boston show write up in the pipe that a reader (also a fantastic writer) sent me. I will be slicing that into 2-3 parts and posting up the first part within the week.

Apologies for not chunking out content.

Finally broke down and updated the look of the site.  Hats off to Jeff for the old layout, it was great but I have been eager to re-tool for a while.  I may elect to do ads at some point... I could stand to make tens of cents but maybe it would help put a dent in my expenses.  Code for buying albums.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Puffy no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!

Just a quick update.  I have a write up in hand for the Boston show that Puffy did in conjunction with the Anime Boston convention.  I have to do break it up into a couple parts, but everyone should enjoy it.  Frankly it is by a much better writer than myself.

In the mean time here is some Puffy of a sort.  Tanaka and Matsumoto of Gaki no Tsukai lip syncing to Asia no Junshin, Tanaka and Matsumoto are my favorites so I was very happy to see them imitate Puffy.

Also some funny bits with the other guys from the show, but you may have to be a Gaki aficionado and old school J-Music.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Puffy Not Lazy 2017 Belasco Show Report

Reader Chanel No. 2 and I were talking about the April 4th 2017 Belasco Theater stop for Puffy’s Not Lazy US Tour.  They were gracious enough to let me share this conversation with the fans at Amiyumidas. I broke our conversation into more of a Q&A to help convey Chanel No.2’s great experience as a super fan.

Image Via @Puffy

Wes:  Tell me about Ami, Yumi and the support band

Chanel No. 2: I think PUFFY was wearing one-piece outfits with Converse shoes.

The band lineup was one guitarist, one bassist, one drummer and the behind-the-scenes DJ that set up the playback.  A different approach to their music. The band played with all their might so the music was shooting out into the room. Ami and Yumi were master sof ceremonies to interact with everyone in the audience.  I was impressed by their English. They definitely studied for the tour but they used notes.

I'm a drummer so I was able to analyze Cindy's (the audience chose her American name) drum kit. Snare, rack tom, floor tom, kick drum, hi-hats, crash cymbal, most likely a ride cymbal, and a cowbell. A different approach to their music. I was expecting 2 crash cymbals and a keyboardist.

I think the volume was louder than the '07 concerts. The drums seemed louder too. When they performed, it was hard to hear myself singing.

Wes: You did the meet and greet, that sounds amazing!

Chanel No. 2: I can't believe I actually met PUFFY! My heart was definitely pounding! I went with the flow. I didn't know what to expect. I was shocked by the number of people that came. I'll need to remember that (next time).

I approached Ami and Yumi. I think I said hi and my name. I remember Ami saying hi to me. She said my name. :-D

Image via Chanel No. 2

Yumi saw my top and basically thought it looked familiar so I said 'Bring it!'  I think they remembered the top so, in perfect English, Ami asked where I got it. I basically said I bought it from Japan and had it shipped to me. Pretty sure it was only sold in 14 Japanese stores. Had I known, I woulda bought a lot. It's quite a bit of cash but...

 I had staff take a pic of Ami, Yumi, and I w/ my phone. I told them I was gonna do a heart. I think Ami said 'A heart'. Ami and Yumi made heart shapes w/ me. :-)

After I got my pic, I said 'Thank you so much' then went to the stage. I miss them already!!!

Wes: Can you share the set list?

Chanel No. 2:  The set-list was very random. I dunno how they came up with it!

1. Puffypipoyama
2. Call Me What You Like (if you like rock-n-roll)
8. Your love is a drug
10. All Because Of You
14. Hi Hi
16. Darekaga
18. Radio Tokyo

Wes:  That is an interesting play list, some I might have predicted but Urei surprised me!  What were some of your thoughts about the set?

Chanel No. 2:  (Puffypipoyama) I wasn't very familiar w/ the song but I'm not surprised it was the 1st song cos it's recent. They did the dance. I'd leave the song name as is. Pipo seems to mean 'people'? Yama can have multiple meanings. Mountain, peak, hill, climax, etc.

(Call me What You Like) That blew my mind. I don't even know if I heard right. 1 of my favorite songs. I didn't think I'd hear it live. I thought they were gonna sing 'Shall We Dance?' but I guess it's not a big shock. It wouldn't be new. I'm very glad they sang the song.

(All Because of You) My favorite PUFFY song. I'm very glad they performed the whole song. It's the version w/ the extended opening.

(Electric Beach Fever) The opening was extended w/ handclaps

Wes:  Ami and Yumi have always had a knack for entertaining the crowd with banter as MC’s, can you tell me about that?

Chanel No. 2:  I can't remember all the MC details but they asked if anyone from the crowd went to their '07 L.A. show. I said I attended. Ami was asked what music is her favorite these days. She said K-pop. I was shocked!

Wes: Was it fun for you, did Puffy enjoy the performance?

Chanel No. 2.:  Such a fun experience. A+!  I think I was the most devoted fanatic there.

I'm glad PUFFY had fun. Hopefully they'll come back. I wasn't sure if they were gonna return but I guess they still have a sufficient fan-base

Wes: Thank you so much for talking about Puffy’s show at the Belasco and thank you for helping me out with a tour shirt.  I’ll post that up separately as I am the master of padding.

If anyone went to the Boston, San Francisco or Dallas shows please ping me.  Same for more LA show reports!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

There is Not Lazy and Not Lazy

I like the fact that Puffy is playing in the US after a fairly long hiatus and this post is probably going to upset some fans.  I get that.  Frankly, I thought they had all but abandoned fans across the Pacific.  So the Not Lazy Tour does represent something of a surprise,  I do take issue with calling it a tour much less dubbing it not lazy. This had been bothering me for a while and I could not put my finger on why exactly, until I saw Shonen Knife announce their US tour and I have some tough love to dole out which pleases me not at all to do so.

Shonen Knife's touring is the precise definition of Not Lazy.  They do double digit cities on a nearly annual touring basis.  They are a band that has never had the same success as Puffy in their native Japan.  They have never had the same media exposure in the US like Puffy.  They have not had a vastly power label like Sony supporting them.  Yet Shonen Knife has far greater tours in the US.

The question I as myself now is why is that so?    

This is less of a shot at Puffy than it is acknowledging that Shonen Knife (Naoko Yamano) is personally invested in touring the US.  Not only does she seek labels to distribute her band's music, but she has laid the ground work for decades by touring the US.  People obviously show up as it is not a charity.  Ami and Yumi seem less personally invested and it would be my best guess that tours and many other things are handled by their people.  Which may be a byproduct of their overwhelming success compared to Shonen Knife in Japan.  It may also be that Shonen Knife has always been Noako's creation whereas Puffy is a group that was forged by Sony.

Perhaps it is an issue of personal investment and here is a rub as a fan of Puffy (more so than Shonen Knife, whom I like but not nearly as much).  What Shonen Knife has done for decades cannot and probably will not be something Ami and Yumi can replicate.  First the ground work is a decade behind Shonen Knife, but also  it simply seems like it is not of serious interest to Puffy to do so.

The lines of thinking between Shonen Knife and Puffy seems to boil down to this. Shonen Knife approaches a US tour like lets see where we can play and put together a tour.  Puffy approaches it by who wants us to play.  I think it speaks to Shonen Knife having some personal investment in touring the US whereas Puffy takes a more passive approach facilitated by their people.

I do not doubt for one second that Puffy could have a twenty date US tour and do well.  Puffy is arguably the best known band from Japan in the US, this might change over time as a band like Perfume makes headway... but for now a far lesser band, namely Shonen Knife is really Not Lazy and that is because Naoko Yamano has invested her energies into the US fans.

The smartest thing Puffy could do if they have any desire to invest in US tours is have Naoko Yamano manage their US tour dates and have Shonen Knife open for them. It would be a win-win for both bands.

All this said, I am sure Ami and Yumi will work hard to put on the great shows they have committed to.  They are not just engaging, but also professionals.  Perhaps if these dates are successful a door will be opened and there will be a new vector for them to apply their energies outside of Japan.

P.S.  I like Puffy far more than Shonen Knife and it genuinely pained me to write all of this.  I continue to listen to Puffy still far more than any other Japanese band and they hold the largest share of my Japanese music heart.  Puffy has vastly more range and talent than most Japanese groups, but I acknowledge that there is little substitution for determination of which Naoko Yamano has in spades when it comes to the subject of US touring.  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Anyone Going To Puffy's Concerts & Want To Do Me A Solid?

Anyone going to the concerts and want to do me a solid?

Swag... I need swag.

I'll pay you back.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Not Lazy" US Tour

The good news is Puffy has more US dates added for the front half of this year!  That is really, really cool.

The bad news is Puffy is likely not playing in your city.

Puffy has announced three tours dates:

Tue 04 April The Belasco Theater, Los Angeles

Thu 06 April The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco

Sun 09 April Trees, Dallas

My hope is a few more dates fill out (pssst Denver would be a perfect stop over between SF and Dallas...)

Not Lazy for sure, touring overseas is no small thing... but I wish it were more ambitious.

Anyways, here is a video they posted talking about the video.  Even talking to fans a bit in English, for which Yumi-san has much improved and Ami sounds totally different speaking English.